“Miami did a great job on him,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said of Parker, who had three of the team’s 18 turnovers. “They doubled. They got it out of his hands, and other people had to play.”
Center Tiago Splitter made two free throws to bring the Spurs within 86-81, but Wade took over from there, scoring the next six points for the Heat and then finding Bosh for a layup to give Miami a 94-83 lead. After making a floater in the lane to start the sequence, Wade intercepted a pass Green intended for Ginobili, darted up the floor and whirled the ball over Neal’s head before throwing down a one-handed jam. The dunk got James up out of his seat to high-five his teammates on the bench as Wade huffed and puffed his way down the court.
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat are the better overall team.
Insight on the Wizards and all the latest news from Post reporter Michael Lee.
“That was a little vintage right there,” Wade said.
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra made the first major adjustment of the series when he benched Udonis Haslem in favor of sharpshooter Mike Miller, hoping Miller could create the spacing needed to let James and Wade operate.
The move didn’t pay any immediate dividends. Parker found Kawhi Leonard in the left corner for a three-pointer that gave San Antonio a 15-5 lead with 7:10 left in the first period, forcing Spoelstra to call a timeout. When the Heat emerged from the huddle, James and Wade came out more assertive, and the defense clamped down. Miami forced three turnovers and outscored San Antonio, 24-11, the rest of the period.
James guaranteed he would be better after being held below 20 points in three consecutive games for the first time since his humiliating performance in the 2011 Finals against Dallas. With the Spurs missing shots and turning the ball over, James got out on the break and attacked the basket like a locomotive, collecting some easy buckets until he had the confidence to pull up from the perimeter. After scoring just 15 points in Game 3, James had 11 after the first period and matched that total by halftime.
But unlike previous games in this series, Wade also was aggressive and made his presence felt on both ends of the floor. Wade scored 14 points in the first half and also recorded a block on Splitter. He gave the Heat a 41-31 lead with a driving layup, but the Spurs answered with an 11-2 run sparked by reserve Boris Diaw. Diaw made two free throws and a three-pointer and later tied the game at 49 with a layup.
Bosh tried to answer with a dunk, but it came after time expired. Wade and James made sure it didn’t matter.
“That’s what great players do,” Parker said. “They show up in big games.”